‘The Sandcastle Empire’ by Kayla Olson was something completely different to what I’m used to. In a somewhat good way of course.
In a world where the rich have become the poor and the poor have become power hungry wolves, Eden escapes to her ‘Sanctuary Island’ from her gulag with 3 others. Following her dad’s survival guide, they make their way to the island and proceed to scope it out. They soon discover that the island is not what they thought it to be and that no one can be trusted, not even people they know who show up out of the blue. The rest of the book follows the group on a mission of discovery that ends up with everyone getting more than they bargained for.
The first half of the book is quite thriller-y. Four girls on an island suddenly become three with no explanation. Weird rain that doesn’t touch the sand, moss that’s poisonous, blood hungry beetles and vines that create hallucinations. Not to mention the man-made bridges etc but no people or even animals. These traps and the whole strangeness of the island make the book really exciting and even though it’s not a genre I’m overly familiar with, I enjoyed it a lot. I haven’t read The Maze Runner but it reminded me a lot of the film. The second half of the book seemed to travel quite quickly, perhaps its just me but it all happened very fast.
Some parts of the story were slightly predictable. After Eden talks so much about her dead Dad and about how close they used to be etc, I expected him to be on the Island. I didn’t know in what position he would be there but I knew he was alive and that him and Eden would be reunited at some point in the story. I don’t like the Wolves but how the were incorporated in the island fits nicely and makes sense when you think of everything that is wrong with the island.
I couldn’t accurately relate to Eden, especially her fears, but I think she was the right type of character for this book. She was brave, she valued life, she was empathetic and independent. You can see why Lonan was drawn to her from the get-go. I like how all the characters have a purpose. I would have liked to have seen more of Phoenix but I think the rest of them had just the right amount of spotlight. I also believe that the connection Lonan and Eden have at the end of the book is completely warranted. They didn’t click immediately but given the circumstances they find themselves in, they learn to trust each other and build a good base for friendship, or in this case, probably more.
Thank goodness there was an actual ending to this book as well. I was scared at one point that there wasn’t going to be a resolution but I’m glad it ended on a good note.
I received this in Owlcrate’s June ‘Make It Out Alive’ box.
You can get it here